I like to revise problem poems by picking out five or six postcards from my big box of images and writing from those disparate images, writing in the margins, compiling, sorting, cutting. The idea is to explore what is disjointed and how it can be juxtaposed to create both tension and harmony.
Today, let’s start from a more cohesive perspective. This is inspired by Rebecca Wee’s “On Toehold, on Curious Rocks: The Poem as Collage” in Wingbeats II.
Start with your poem. Choose two or three things in it. Write five statements for thing.
It’s even better if you can include some research. For example, if your thing is a red wheelbarrow, when did the wheelbarrow first appear in history?
Speaking of history, is there a date that connects to one of these things, or to something else in your poem? Look up that date, and write a few facts about that, too.
Add all this to the end of your poem, write it or print it out, and then cut it into strips–one line per strip.
The lines have lost their associations. Play around with them, reorder them. What new associations do they find? When you like the way a group fits, use glue or tape to keep them together. Keep playing. Have fun!